By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
SOME Northern leaders have reacted to the recent demand by their counterparts in the South and Middlebelt regions for the 2023 presidential slot to be zoned to the south in the interest of a united Nigeria without which, the country may no longer exist
The northern leaders said although they believed the South had competent people who could be the next President, the leaders of the Southern and Middlebelt regions must note that they cannot get the Presidential seat by threatening the North with secession.
The Northern leaders further stated that politics had to do with negotiations and convincing others why they should vote for a particular person or group.
They, therefore, maintained that Southerners must adopt this approach if they want to produce a successor to the current President.
Speaking with Our Correspondent in Abuja, the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said: “It is a sad reflection of how low Nigerian politics has sunk that matters that should be processed through the political system are now raised to levels of threats and intimidation.
“There are southerners and northerners in the two major parties,but it would appear that they have abdicated their responsibilities to groups that think they can achieve results with threats.
“The north is the target of these threats. Northern voters are not impressed and they will not be intimidated by threats to abandon their rights to choose freely, the same rights that are available to other Nigerians.
“Politicians and tribal leaders who think they can extract concessions or advantages using threats forget that Nigerians are already bleeding from all forms of threats and violence.
“What type of leadership will they provide when they have to threaten to destroy the country on their way to power? These people who speak like this do not represent the majority of Nigerians who just want peace and progress under good leaders.
“In any case, they should know that they are demanding what no one is in a position to give. We run a democracy. If they want a southern president, they need to learn the basic tool of politics which are persuasion and compromise. If they want something else, they should say so, so that Nigerians can see them for what they are.”
Similarly, a former presidential aide, Alhaji Salisu Yakassai, noted that no region in Nigeria can attain the Presidency without the support of others.
Consequently, he advised those who want to be President to hit the road and convince all people that they mean well for them.
He, however, explained that the politicians and tribal leaders resort to threats because of the fault-lines in Nigeria’s democracy which make votes seem not to count.
Yakassai blamed that the failure of leadership, especially at the centre, for the decline of nationalism and embrace of parochialism among the people.
He added, “I am a Nigerian to the core, and so, our brothers and sisters all over the country are welcome to air their views, because we are in a democracy. However, the collective aim should be to build our country.
“Yes, we are practising democracy and we acknowledge that there are faultlines in it, because votes appear not to count. That in itself is a bought which creates frustration.
“So, the demand by the Southern and Middlebelt leaders which was capped with a threat may not be far from the frustration that votes do not count in this country. However, it is laughable that politicians and tribal leaders should be making such threats in the 21st century.
“Well, even the presidency has said the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable but we say everything is negotiable. But if our brothers in the South and Middlebelt regions rather than negotiating are threatening secession, then their demands won’t work.
“No doubts, there are daunting challenges in the country. Because the government appears not to be working, citizens are going micro day-by-day and embracing parochialism. Leadership is responsible for the decline of nationalism in the country today.
“However, all leaders must note that dividing Nigeria is much ore difficult than keeping the country united.”